portrait photography

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A few years ago, I discovered that Natalia LaFourcade was including a concert stop in PHX as part of her first world tour. I mustered my best Spanish and e-mailed her management in Mexico with a request to photograph the concert. Not being a "known" photographer, I was very surprised and pleased to receive a positive response. I prepared by studying everything I could find online about concert photography. This opportunity was going to be my first professional-level concert with someone known around the world. Upon arriving at the venue, I was told I could only photograph the first three songs, which greatly reduced the time allowed to figure out how to do it right. But the challenge paid off. I quickly got used to shooting at angles that avoided directly looking into the spot lights and learned how to follow Natalia's motion to capture some good clear images.

images on this page

1. Around the time my friend was starting to teach Kali (Filipino martial art), I was becoming interested in portraiture; something I had previously avoided. Since I was building the Kali website, I was given an opportunity to take some of the photos for the site which could also be used in my portfolio. The images were taken in a desert wash so the background would be rough, or even rustic looking. Except for the eyes, a sepia filter was applied to the image.

(f/4.0, 1/200 sec, ISO 800, 85mm)

2. Still new to portraiture when this image was taken, I'd read how important it is to avoid allowing the horizon line to pass through the neck or head of the subject. With this in mind, I did, unintentionally, end up taking a few images with a poorly placed horizon line. When it happens, the error is very obvious. According to the "rules", the horizon line must be above the head, through or below the shoulders.

(f/2.8, 1/800 sec, ISO 320, 85mm)

3. Another early attempt at portraiture occurred at a jazz club in PHX. The performance was my first opportunity to shoot a concert in the typical indoor, dark envoronment. At the time, I had a Nikon D90 that took great photos. The big surprise was having to set the ISO extremely high (in my opinion) in order to achieve a shutter speed fast enough to freeze motion. I was fortunate to discover the D90 handled the high ISO without leaving too much noise in the images.

(f/2.8, 1/125 sec, ISO 3200, 85mm)

4. So far, my favorite portrait photography subject is yoga. It always provides an opportunity to capture an asana (pose) in a different, yet interesting way. My subject had recently become a teacher and was in need of images for advertising. We decided to try the Mesa Arts Center which offered a significant amount of nice backgrounds. More from the set will be presented in the future.

(f/4.0, 1/500 sec, ISO 800, 85mm)

5. The night after photo #3 of this set was taken, I was able to capture a decent image of the drummer. Still amazed at how such a high ISO resulted in little noise. I got lucky with a shutter speed of only 1/125 sec. The drummer was sitting still enough to avoid appearing blurred and yet the moving drum stick in his right hand is nicely blurred, showing motion.

(f/2.8, 1/125 sec, ISO 3200, 85mm)

6. From the camera settings used to capture this image, I learned an important lesson about shooting in dark conditions when motion is involved. A shutter speed of at least 1/250 sec is usually needed to freeze the motion of someone on stage. Since 1/800 sec was available for this photo, I could have either lowered the ISO for a "cleaner" shot, or increased the f stop for more depth of field while maintaining a necessary shutter speed. As mentioned above (under projects), this shoot was my first pro-level opportunity. Other images from this concert will be shown in the future.

(f/3.2, 1/800 sec, ISO 3200 50mm)

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